U.S., Russia condemn Iran, but don't increase sanctions

The U.S. and Russia, striking a compromise, led a new U.N. Security Council effort Friday to condemn Iran's nuclear program that includes no new sanctions.

The brief resolution seeks to reaffirm the three previous ones, which imposed progressively tougher sanctions on Iran for refusing to halt its uranium enrichment program.

It also calls on Tehran “to fully comply, without delay, with its obligations” and meet the requirements of the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency.

The council consulted privately for more than an hour Friday afternoon and agreed to hold further talks on the proposal as soon as Monday. It also was briefly discussed earlier in the day at a private meeting of foreign ministers with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Pakistan's president.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said the new resolution has the agreement of ministers from the six key players in negotiations on Iran's nuclear program — Russia, the U.S., Britain, France, China and Germany.

The U.S., Britain and France have been pressing for a new round of sanctions to step up pressure against Iran for its continuing refusal to suspend uranium enrichment as a prelude to talks on its nuclear program. But Russia and China objected to new sanctions.

The proposed new resolution is a compromise — no new sanctions but a tough statement to Iran that Security Council resolutions are legally binding and must be carried out.

“There will be no resolution on sanctions,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said. “This is reiteration of the status quo.”

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said Russia believes “that more discussions are necessary with Iranians and that there is still room for diplomacy here.”

The U.S. wanted more sanctions, but will settle for a strong statement.

“Unity of purpose on the council is a very important signal to send out,” U.S. Deputy Ambassador Alejandro Wolff said. “It's been six months since the previous resolution was adopted. … Council silence, we think, would send the wrong signal.”

Existing U.N.-backed sanctions against Iran include an embargo on proliferation-sensitive nuclear and ballistic missile programs, an export ban on arms and related material, targeted sanctions on certain people, banks and other entities through travel bans and asset freezes.